From Minority to Official Language: The Current Status of Kurdish Language after 2003

Mohamad Yahya Abdullah, Ahmed H. Naif

Abstract


The situation of the Kurdish language in Iraq underwent different phases of development since the formation of the first Iraqi government in 1921. This article explores the progress of the Kurdish language status in Iraq that occurred over several decades. This paper also examines the factors contributing to granting the Kurdish language its new status after the Anglo – America invasion in 2003. To accomplish the objectives of the study, official Iraqi documents on language policy were examined, and semi-structured interviews with six linguistics professors were conducted. Data analyzed quantitatively indicated that the status of the Kurdish language underwent four significant phases starting from the formation of the first Iraqi constitution in 1921 until the new Iraqi Interim Constitution in 2005. At this point, Iraqi Kurds take advantage of their good economic, political, and social standing in Iraq to grant the Kurdish language as an official language alongside the Arabic language, which is the language of the majority and the national language of Iraq. The study concluded that international law alone is not enough to promote minorities’ languages unless external support exists. In Iraq, the Kurdish language went beyond the ethnic minorities and their language rights if we compared it with other countries that considered the democratic patron and maintained human rights.

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References


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